Letters from Basic Training – April 11, 2004 – Part I

Welcome to Letters from Basic Training. If you’re new here, refer back to the earliest letter. It’s taken me a long time, so if I tell the same anecdote twice, particularly in the [ ] brackets, give an old guy a break.

Sunday
11APR04

Happy Easter! I hope you had a better Easter than I did. Today instead of an Easter egg hunt, we hunted for rocks and trash on one of the PT fields and put it into a wheelbarrow. If this task sounds stupid – 50 guys picking up pebbles – you’re right. Then we mostly sat around. I got to make a phone call but I called my brother becasue I only had 3 minutes and it was so noisy, I wouldn’t have been able to hear you.

[apparently either I didn’t care if I could hear my brother, or he just had a better phone]

Also, they gave us colored hardboiled eggs in the DFAC. Drill sergeant: “Men, take an egg, dammit! These pretty colored eggs are for you.”

[Every once in a while the drill sergeants would say something funny. They had three automatic responses: If you said “I’m sorry” they’d reply “Yeah you are.” If you said “Sorry, drill sergeant,” they’d yell “Are you calling me a sorry drill sergeant?” and if you said “Thank you,” they’d say “Don’t thank me, thank your recruiter.”]

[…] Bravo Company had their Family Day this weekend and I saw some of the people walking around. There was also a couple that got back an hour early and they were hugging like the whole time. […] We got to watch them because we set a new record for standing in a line. I lost two hours of my life that will never come back, and all they were doing was issuing us our rifles.

[I don’t know what’s wrong with the Army. We usually would carry our rifles around with us all day (this was a new thing as you’ve read in a previous letter and will read again) Then we’d lock them in weapons racks at the foot of our bunks overnight. Even this is fairly extreme since they’d also do a brass and ammo shakedown after each trip to the range. After we shot, we’d empty all our pockets into our caps (BDUs have 10 pockets) and the drill sergeants would walk by, pat us down, shake the sh*t out of us to relieve their frustrations, and God help us if we had anything in one of our pockets even if it was a nickel or a tissue. They were, I guess, afraid that we would smuggle rounds back into the bay, load up our weapons at night and then pull a Full Metal Jacket. Of course, any nutjob could just go berserk on the range. And we’d find rounds – usually spent brass or blanks, but once in a while live ones – inside our boots, or tangled in our ponchos back at the barracks which then had to be surreptitiously put inside the “Amnesty Box”. But I digress. We were lucky to not have to go through the weapons issue process every day. When we did have to do it – like when we were coming back from pass – it took two hours. This hot little private, PFC Mercado – who was the only pretty girl we’d see for weeks at a time (except one semi-young semi-hot light-skinned black chick who worked in the chow hall) – was the unit armorer (no wonder I didn’t tell Mary Beth about her). Most of us had fantasies about her (the guys who didn’t thought she was too small – she was sort of midget-like, but I’m pretty sure those guys were gay). PFC Mercado did not give a f*ck about any of us nasty privates. I heard (through the private-grapevine) that she was a lesbian, but more likely she was dating some Ranger school instructor or drill sergeant. Anyhow, one day we were about to go on a road march and, because it was cold in the morning, a lot of guys tried to wear their polypro longjohns underneath their BDUs. The drill sergeants didn’t want us doing this, because we were about to march 10 miles and it was going to get very warm shortly. So they made everyone pull down their pants so they could check for long underwear. (You can’t just trust privates) 90% of us who were not wearing the long underwear were not wearing any underwear at all (it chafes). So you had two hundred dudes with their pants down and their junk hanging out. PFC Mercado was coming into work then, and she just walked by in front of our formation, not even batting an eye. Well, women are different than dudes. If there were two hundred women in front of me with their pants pulled down I think I would have gotten about a dozen of them pregnant before they put me in prison. Anyhow the point of this whole long digression was supposed to be that for PFC Mercado to issue weapons required her to yell out our roster number in her sexy voice, then we’d have to exit the formation properly, jog to the window, recite our serial number, have her check it, get our weapon, double check the serial number, sign a form, write down our serial number, and then return to formation. Multiply this by two hundred. And all the companies before us had to do this every time they drew weapons (probably 4 days a week), and every time they turned them back in.]

[I’ve typed so much that I’m just going to quit here and post the next part of this letter tomorrow.]

To be continued…

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